Modern Asian cuisine on the Sunshine Coast is so much more than teppanyaki bars and neighbourh­ood Chinese restaurant­s. And Spicers Tamarind Retreat’s The Tamarind restaurant at Maleny is one of those marrying delicate Asian flavours and farm-fresh produce in innovative dishes and giving new twists to traditiona­l styles of cooking.

The hatted restaurant considers itself Asianinflu­enced, born of a Thai heart.

Executive chef Dan Jarrett opened The Tamarind with the retreat launch in 2010 and stayed for five years before branching out into his own restaurant­s on the coastal strip. But Jarrett answered the call to return to one of the region’s foremost Asian restaurant­s five years ago. “Thai suits our climate and Australian­s in general love Asian food,” he says. “It’s healthy and you don’t feel super-full [afterwards].”

Every February, the retreat welcomes up to 500 gastronome­s for the Sunshine Coast Asian Food Festival. The ‘mini-degustatio­n’ is a chance for Jarrett to create new dishes exclusivel­y for the festivalgo­ers.

“It’s a good excuse to have a good day out and get people to see our property and see this part of the world, and explore the hinterland,” he says.

“It’s just having a bit of fun with Asian food. I make up for the event something fried, something steamed and something bulky: four savoury dishes and dessert at the end. People can graze at their own leisure and pace themselves.

“Once they find their spot (in the rainforest setting), they make it their home and are set for the day,” he adds.

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